Acquisitions have boosted first-quarter sales and earnings at US-based pickles-to-salad dressings firm TreeHouse Foods.

The company booked underlying operating income of US$37.3m – a jump of 35.3% – for the three months to the end of March. Sales climbed 39.2% to $360.6m.

The improved figures came thanks to contributions from last year’s acquisitions San Antonio Farms and E.D. Smith.

Chairman and CEO Sam Reed said the results “exceeded expectations” and said consumer concern over rising food bills would benefit TreeHouse Foods.

Reed said: “Retail grocers are now seeing consumers switch to value priced store brands, and we believe the TreeHouse product portfolio is well positioned to take advantage of these shifts.”

On a reported basis, net income reached $2.1m, down from $7.4m a year earlier, TreeHouse said.

Costs linked to the closure of the company’s pickle plant in Oregon and exchange losses on company debt hit earnings.